Why Teaching Your Child a New Language Will Not Harm their English Skills

All parents want their children to thrive. Unfortunately, sometimes myths, rather than actual research, can lead our decisions as parents. A common piece of parenting folklore states that we might harm our children’s English language skills if we introduce the child to a new language during toddlerhood.

This is simply not true.

Busting A Myth

Access to different languages will allow children’s language skills to thrive. Children learn language structure without even knowing it, particularly at a young age, and can then apply it to their new language or languages.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information has determined that the ability to speak or understand more than one language actually helps brain development. In a study monitoring brain activity in bilingual individuals, they found that bilingual individuals had more brain activity in different areas of their brains than monolingual individuals.

The bilingual child’s brain is always active, differentiating between the two languages and their expansive vocabulary, particularly if the languages are taught simultaneously or in the same environment. This high level of brain activity, studies have shown, actually changes an individual’s ability to absorb new information. Essentially: learning a second language rewires the brain permanently so it performs language tasks quickly and efficiently.

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Researchers at Cornell University have learned that young children who learn a second language have better attention skills and can ignore distractions easier than monolingual children. In our modern world, with distractions merely inches away from us, the frustration of continuous loss of attention for students, parents, and teachers, and eventually employers, cannot be overstated. It may seem counterintuitive, but learning a new language does not overwhelm a child’s brain. It helps it.

Languages Teach Empathy

The University of Chicago conducted a different study and learned that being multilingual increased empathy in children, allowing them to see situations from others’ points of view. Researchers noted that throughout human history, exposure to languages has aided survival through exposure to new ideas. What we are seeing with this study is evolution in action.

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Languages also have different words for experiences and emotions, so empathy is engaged in the learning process. Multilingual children learn that languages are vibrant and organic, empowering them to appreciate the world’s many cultures.

The Cornell study researchers point out that learning to read, speak, write, and understand languages is part of what makes us human. Picking up different languages is simply what we do best.

What Learning Sounds Like

When children, particularly toddlers, are learning more than one language at the same time, they may occasionally use two or three different languages in a sentence. And of course, “sentence” is a relative term as toddlers speak in fragments, getting distracted from their main point, punctuating with constant “umms”, as they practice communication. Adding a few languages to the mix may frustrate the parent, who simply wants to know what is going on. It’s all perfectly fine. The child’s brain is simply trying to organize their thoughts into a system – one that will straighten out over time.

The bottom line is that research clearly shows that first language proficiency does not decrease by learning a new language. There are many benefits to learning a second language, and a child’s mind can only expand and grow from exposure.

We firmly believe this and invite parents to contact us if they wish to learn more about our educational philosophies.

Whole Brain Teaching Methods for Pre-School Students

“Class?” “Yes?”

This step is intended to capture students’ attention with a single word. Students are taught that when the teacher says the predetermined word (usually “class”), they are to respond as a group with “yes”.  The catch here is that the students are taught to respond in a mirror image of the teacher, so if the teacher says “class, class”, the students are to respond with “yes, yes”. Teachers should practice improvising and using as many variations of “class” as they can imagine. This ensures that the technique remains interesting to the students, thereby keeping them entertained, engaged, and looking forward to the instructions that are to follow. This step is especially important for preschool aged children, as they are just learning to mimic and copy.

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Classroom Rules

Once a teacher has the attention of the students, it’s imperative that he or she lay down the classroom rules. Each rule is associated with a specific physical gesture, so over time the combination of muscle memory and memorized rules becomes second nature. The rules and their associated gestures are:

  1. Follow Directions Quickly – Move your hand or finger in a swimming motion forward.
  2. Raise your Hand for Permission to Speak – Raise your hand then make a talking motion with your mouth.
  3. Raise your Hand for Permission to Leave your Chair – Raise your hand and make a waving motion with your fingers.
  4. Make Smart Choices – Tap your temple on your head.
  5. Keep your Dear Teacher Happy – Make the letter “L” with each hand and place it by the corners of your mouth to motion a smile.

Hands and Eyes

This is the step where the students are required to really focus on what the teacher’s instructions are.  When the teacher announces “hands and eyes”, all students are to look at the teacher, sit up straight, and hold their hands together. The “hands and eyes” statement is a simple reminder to the children that they are about to receive instruction. This is the time for the teacher to make their point and since preschool-aged children tend to have very short attention spans, it’s important that the point be short (less than 15-25 seconds), sweet, and uncomplicated. Remember that the end result should be pieces of information that are chopped up into small enough bites that a preschool aged student can effectively retain and then reteach the information to his or her peers.        

“Teach.” “Ok.”

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The Teach-OK step is the instructional part of the lesson. The teacher divides the students into groups and teaches small pieces of information with the aid of hand movements and/or physical gestures. After the teacher completes instruction, he or she announces “teach”, to which the children respond “ok”. This signals the students that it is time to repeat the same information and gestures to their peers. During this time the teacher should be moving among each group and assessing which children adequately retained and are able to re-teach the lesson, versus those that are struggling. This process repeats itself until the entire lesson has been taught.

Switch

This step coincides with Teach-OK. As the students are re-teaching their classmates, they should take turns using and mirroring the gestures or physical movements that accompany each step. The least complicated way to accomplish this is to count the students off by ones and twos, so that when it’s time to switch, each child knows that it’s their turn to perform the mirror image of their peer.

Mirror

At any time during the lesson the teacher may announce “mirror, mirror”, accompanied by a specific gesture. This command signals the children to stop what they are doing and mimic the teacher. This step should be used to regain the class’s attention when the children begin to lose focus. It offers a brief time out and a chance for the students to recollect their thoughts.

Scoreboard

For preschool aged children, students should receive points marked on a smiley face or a frowny face on the board, depending upon how they performed (up to three points per face). Every time the teacher marks a point on the smiley face, the students should be taught to respond with a quick cheer or applause, and each time a point is marked on the frowny face they may groan out loud (though this may not be something a teacher wishes to adopt in his or her classroom). This practice ensures that the entire class is cognizant of overall performance. At the end of the day a surplus of smiley face points should be rewarded with an extra few minutes of playtime or storytime.

The practice of Whole Brain Teaching emphasizes active learning and engages a student at the level they are most comfortable with for their age group. This fun and interactive method ensures that even the youngest student will retain and understand their lessons more comprehensively. For more information on the benefits of Whole Brain Teaching and how it applies to preschool aged children, please contact us.

The Career Benefits of Multilingual Education

There is no greater gift you can give to your child’s future career than a multilingual education. The business world is an international one, and the most successful companies have locations across the globe. Companies are always on the lookout for bilingual new hires and one of the most common complaints of young professionals is that they didn’t learn more languages (or learn more thoroughly) when they were younger. By helping your child learn additional languages when they are very young, you can set them up for higher quality positions for the rest of their lives.

Language and the Young Mind

By the time the public school system starts offering language classes, it’s too little, too late. The human mind learns languages best during the infant and toddler stage, preparing each person for the complex communication required for further learning. Study after study has found that “in the domain of language, infants and young children are superior learners when compared to adults, in spite of adults’ cognitive superiority”. Children from bilingual families, for instance, will always have a deeper, more inherent grasp of both languages than their peers who try to learn a second language. By the time the traditional high school language classes begin, the brain has solidified into it’s one-language way of forming thoughts and picking up the structure of a new language can be incredibly difficult.

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Domestic Opportunities

English may be the national language, but it is by no means the only language spoken within the US. Companies are constantly seeking bilingual new hires, who experience a ten to fifteen percent pay increase for the value of their skills. When a staff includes people who speak multiple languages, a company can reach out to every local community, not just the English speaking ones. This means that your child’s linguistic abilities not only grow their own cultural awareness, but can influence any business they are a part of to greater cultural service. Especially in industries that cater to multicultural families, polyglots (people who know more than two languages) are desperately needed to translate and explain policies and opportunities to their non-English-speaking clients.

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International Opportunities

The more languages you know, the more countries you can do business in. Whether your child grows up to be a doctor without borders or an international entrepreneur, markets and communities open up before them. Representing a corporation, they can also offer a courtesy few Americans can manage effectively: meeting clients in their own language. In addition, when culture, as well as language, is taught to children at an early age, they gain a deeper and more inherent understanding of how to interact with people from that culture courteously, without any common cross-cultural faux pas occurring.

Interpreters and Translators

Anyone with good manners and a strong grasp of two or more languages will always be welcomed as an interpreter or professional translator. These positions open up whole new realms of travel and import. Interpreters are needed everywhere from ESL classes to the UN, giving your child an amazing range of opportunities based on a single set of skills you can teach them before the age of six.

People who fluently speak multiple languages have an easier time getting a job, traditionally make more money than their monolinguistic counterparts, and can find unique business opportunities all over the world. Many people seek a second language later in life, but by then their brains have already settled into the thought patterns of a single language. By educating your toddler in multiple languages, you are effectively setting them up for a long and successful career, no matter what they choose to be when they grow up.

If you’d like more information on French or Spanish language learning for young children or to enroll your child in the Tessa International School, contact us today! Multilingual and multicultural early education is our passion and we’d love to share it with you and your child!

5 Benefits of Childhood Bilingualism

Benjamin Lee Wharf, a Yale linguist, was the first person to explore the possibility that bilingualism shapes the way we act and think. Although parts of his famous language theory, the “Sapir–Whorf hypothesis,”, remain hotly debated, many recent studies have supported his theory that bilingualism does have a distinct effect, particularly early in life. Many studies suggest that learning more than one language has the potential to unlock amazing mental capabilities and benefits as children grow and mature.  

Multitasking

Research conducted on 6-year-old test subjects produced some interesting and encouraging results The children were grouped into two even sets: children who were bilingual, and children who were monolingual. Researchers gave the children various tasks designed to test their multitasking abilities. The bilingual children were able to switch their attention between tasks with greater ability and speed. The researchers behind this experiment felt that this type of increased ability stems from the skills and brain development acquired during their language acquisition. They concluded that switching between two separate languages regularly may increase the activity in our brain responsible for multitasking.

Brain Health

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Some researchers liken the brain to a “muscle”, growing and changing as we “exercise” it regularly, making it stronger and healthier in the long run. In a 2011 study, researchers found strong evidence to support the theory that bilingualism can support overall brain health and delay cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. Although there is no cure for these diseases, this study suggests that learning multiple languages may increase our “cognitive reserve,” the brain’s ability to use its resources and resist damage. Learning multiple languages is a perfect way for children to  “exercise” and grow important areas of the brain.

Social Growth

Communication is extremely important in the modern world for cultural understanding. As children grow and mature, learning how to interact with different types of people is of huge social advantage. Bilingual children possess great potential for social skills, with an increased sense of empathy, both used in their personal relationships and even in their future careers. Language is the glue that holds society together. To possess greater language ability will provide a child with greater social understanding, skill and increased adaptability (not only linguistic, but a general ability to adapt better in multiple settings).

Abstract Reasoning

As we grow, we begin to think deeper and are capable of understanding more abstract thoughts. Our academics become more oriented towards problem-solving designed to test our reasoning skills and creativity. Studies have shown that children who understood two languages at an early age have an advantage at this type of learning later in life. Using multiple languages grows short-term “working-memory”, a brain tool specifically designed for problem-solving and rapid-fire action.  Bilingual children often show greater brain “flexibility” when it comes to solving problems and finding original answers.

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Many young children often initially struggle with sitting still and focusing on specific tasks. However, as they grow, their attention span often grows with them, allowing them to increase their focus. Some studies show that bilingual children possess a naturally stronger attention span. Even at younger ages, these children often possess the ability to focus on tasks and better understand what’s being asked of them. This is due to improved “executive control,” a cognitive mechanism responsible for mental decisions and focus. Some researchers feel that better executive control in bilingual children results from their ability to quickly see the difference between the words of different languages. By switching back and forth between two languages at a split-second’s notice, these children naturally grow their focus and attention to detail.

Although many new facts about bilingual development are yet to be discovered, many studies suggest that specific benefits come with learning multiple languages. As adults, we often struggle with learning foreign languages. However, language learning is much easier for children as they have an innate gift to do so and they do not compartmentalize in the way we do – language is language. Gifting  your child another language at an early age puts them at great advantage for their future.

For more information on language skills and development, please contact us today.

Total Physical Response Learning: 4 of the Best Second Language Activities

In the 1970s, James Asher, a psychology professor at San Jose State University, created a ground-breaking second language program that completely shifted the way children learn new languages. His program, “Total Physical Response Learning (TPR),” transformed language lessons into fun interactive games and activities students would love.  

He found that using commands, such as “sit-down” or “jump”, in another language, sped up the rate at which children learn. Association of a new word with a movement or action strengthens memorization of a language. Unlike many other types of learning, Total Physical Response Learning activities are easy to incorporate in any classroom for a variety of age groups. Parents can easily play these games with their children at home as well, and even begin to pick up the language themselves.

TPR Storytelling

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Regardless of age, everyone loves a good story, especially children. Teachers that incorporate a new language into their classroom story-times are subtly but effectively exposing their students to brand new words and language concepts. Whether a fairytale, adventure, or silly comedy, an effective TPR story always incorporates a specific recipe:

  • Enjoyable characters students can relate to
  • A specific plot/story direction
  • A good moral lesson
  • A healthy blend of the students’ native language as well as new second language vocabulary and terms
  • Creative descriptions
  • Listener interactions (having the listeners “act out” certain story elements–hand motions, facial expressions, word repetition, etc.

Second Language “Simon Says”

An old standby, Simon Says is still a timeless game many children love. It combines a healthy mental challenge with fun energetic body movements. Children have an easier time incorporating new words into their vocabulary when their whole body is being used as a learning tool. Start the game with basic native language words (i.e. “spin,” “raise one hand,” “pat your head”). Then, throughout the game, begin to incorporate new second language terms.  

Demonstrate the new words yourself. For example, to teach a new French term, say “Sautez trois fois!” and demonstrate the action by jumping three times. After your students watch, repeat the term again and have them do it with you. Throughout the game, repeat this command and action. By the second or third repetition, the children should be familiar enough with the sound and association to instantly perform the command. The friendly competition within this game will also motivate the children to listen and learn as quickly as they can.

Treasure Hunt

Searching for new objects and “hidden treasures” throughout the classroom is an easy way to help build teamwork among the students using their natural curiosity and problem-solving abilities. By mixing in foreign-language descriptive terms such as color, size, and quantity, students begin learning a large variety of adjectives for their new language.  

Begin the game with very simple terms. If teaching Spanish, begin by using color terms such as “amarillo” (yellow), “blanco,” (white) or “rojo” (red). Demonstrate each new word with a group of the appropriately colored objects before the game. Hide the objects around the room without the students watching. After they return, give them a command like “Find amarillo!” They’ll scatter about the room and find objects of the appropriate color. Go through the color list several times and watch the game speed up as the associations become stronger.  

To increase the difficulty, use the game to teach quantity. Demonstrate each number with specific groups of objects such as three balls, one hat, or five blocks. Repeat the numbers with different objects, each matching the appropriate numbers. Begin the game by asking for “dos” (two). Continue the game, repeating and reinforcing each number with a visual representation of the amount. By the end of the game, students will have a healthy and growing grasp of both number properties as well as what these numbers are in the second language.

Action Songs

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Similar to TPR storytelling, songs are a great way to introduce a new language. The tune of the song, mixed with hand or body motions, creates natural memorization. Use simple songs such as “Head and Shoulders,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” or popular nursery rhymes. Because these songs are already familiar to many children, the new word associations will form quickly. Sing the songs in the native language first and begin gradually replacing certain words with the second language. Continue replacing more and more words. With time, children will be able to sing the songs in either language with ease.

We, as adults, learn new languages slowly, but children pick them up with ease, almost automatically, without thinking about ‘the difficulty’ involved. They are master learners, master puzzle-piece connectors, hungry for new knowledge and skills. Allowing them the tools to learn a new language unlocks their potential and feeds their natural curiosity. By far, Total Physical Response Learning is one of the most fun and effective ways for children to master a second language. For more information on this classroom practice and for TPR activity ideas, please contact us today.

 

The Pre School Years and the Importance of Social Emotional Learning

When it comes to learning and culture, your child’s brain is a blank slate. Children learn through socialization from other adults and children in their immediate environment and, through repeated exposure to the people of that culture, they begin to understand those norms and beliefs. In a foreign country, your child learns cultural norms from both you, the parents, and their experiences in that country. Children and young students living abroad have the benefit of encountering different cultures, and therefore have a richer view of the world. Parents who want their children to experience a wider view of culture may consider a more international upbringing for their children.

The Context of Socialization

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The Age of Pretending

Your child’s personality is shaped through the beliefs and attitudes they experience during socialization throughout their development.

As parents, you can steer your child’s development in one direction or another. For example, your child may be naturally musical. If you provide them with musical training, you may find that they have unique musical abilities that they would never have otherwise discovered.

During preschool, children learn through pretending games. They assume different roles and act out scenarios with their peers, assuming multiple attitudes and perspectives. Even alone, children may act out different roles by themselves. Through pretending, children achieve a deeper understanding of what they’ve learned watching adults and peers.

Social Emotional Learning Counts

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All parents want what is best for their child and structured play experiences provide ample developmental benefits. Through structured play, children learn to explore their personalities, understand their culture, and form friendships.

Some children are introverted and less likely than peers to seek out social experiences. For timid children, exposure to regular playtime with peers is particularly important. Introverted children benefit from a nurturing environment with low-key pretending games. Pretend kitchen sets or puppets are great tools for low-key playtime, or even a simple sandbox.

It’s so wonderful as parents to see your young children immerse themselves in play with others and come home excited about the friends they’ve made and the things they’ve learned. Children’s brains develop at an incredibly fast rate, and as a parent, you can witness your child make new discoveries almost daily. Our children remind us of how we first developed our understanding and belief system about ourselves and the world. It’s important to take the time to provide children with diverse experiences so they can have full advantage of this crucial time of education and discovery.

For more details on the importance of social emotional learning in a safe and structured, setting, please contact us today. Your child’s positive development is our primary focus.

The Benefits of Inquiry-Based Education

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As your preschooler is exposed to learning, it’s likely that his or her inquisitive nature will reveal itself. At Tessa International School in Hoboken New Jersey, we encourage our students to take charge of their learning with an inquiry-based learning approach based on the International Baccalaureate framework.

What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

While many preschool teachers begin the process of learning by presenting students with information, with inquiry-based learning, teachers first ask the students what they would like to learn and go from there. This innovative method of teaching helps the students to gain a better understanding through their own initiative and curiosity.

Inquiry-based learning encourages students to engage in the process of gathering data and to seek answers to their questions. Rather than being handed information, students are taught to ask questions, gather information, interpret data, and produce practical solutions. It teaches students to take action. Students are also taught to develop insightful questions and understand context.

As a result, your preschooler learns the fundamentals of problem solving, a mission Tessa International School is committed to in the classroom.

Benefits of Inquiry-Based Learning

  1. Students exposed to inquiry-based learning are given the opportunity to nurture their talents and passions. They take control of their learning during the unit of work being taught. Your preschooler is given the freedom to be driven by their own curiosity for learning.
  2. Inquiry-based learning encourages your preschooler to use their voice when problem solving.They feel as if their mind is respected and their choices are valid. When students become active in the learning process, they are also more likely to seek solutions and keep an open mind when learning about processes involved in discovery. They feel empowered.
  3. Inquiry-based learning promotes the act of questioning concepts and materials, so your child begins to understand the importance of having an inquisitive mind. As a result, she gains confidence when encouraged to ask about concepts related to educational materials, social skills, cultural differences and behavioral expectations. This openness to learn helps to guide them through life with an open mind.
  4. While many classroom curriculum programs focus on memorization and facts, inquiry-based learning teaches your child to seek a deeper understanding of the process and materials presented to them.
  5. Even as preschoolers, it’s important for students to take ownership of their learning. Inquiry-based learning approaches promote this practice. Students are involved in setting educational goals and are guided through the process of reaching these goals and then assessing how they did and what they learned at the end of it all.
  6. This learning style impacts your little one long into their adult life because inquiry-based learning shows your child how to investigate and research independently, without assistance. With enhanced research skills, your child will have the skillset to evaluate credible sources and online content later in life.
  7. As we learn and grow, life presents many challenges and questions. When exposed to inquiry-based learning techniques, your child learns how to take control of her learning through perseverance. With a clear focus on the growth of each student’s mind through self-regulation, this learning approach aids in developing your child’s sense of responsibility, not only as a student, but also a citizen.
  8. Most importantly, inquiry-based learning is designed to foster a love of learning for children of all ages. Your child is encouraged to seek out the knowledge he or she is passionate about on a daily basis. Students also learn how to make each learning opportunity a journey of discovery, with a little fun along the way.

If you’re interested in learning more about the creative curriculum approaches of Tessa International School, contact us today to see how we are committed to this progressive framework and to excellence.

What is immersion education?

7Immersion education is a system in which all academic subjects are taught in a target language such as French, Spanish, or Mandarin. It’s best if it’s started when children are young as they are more able to pick up subtle nuances of language. The classrooms are efficient learning environments where classroom procedures and transitions move quickly.

Teachers are fluent and native speakers of the target language and they are committed to speaking the target language consistently. This means they speak the target language during instruction, transitions, outside play, and eating times. Teachers are highly attentive to students’ needs and their individual learning styles.

The classroom is a literacy rich environment with pictures, labels, and other meaningful visuals to help support the target language throughout the day. Teachers are skilled at aiding comprehension through non-verbal clues and strategic teaching strategies.

The day is organized and routines are consistent and key phrases and vocabulary are repeated often to help children gain a foothold on their vocabulary development. Children make connections across the curriculum as the target language and English curriculum are aligned which allows them to reinforce concepts and ideas in both languages.

Will your child lose their English?

Studies have shown that children in immersion settings perform the same if not better than children who are not.

What if you don’t speak the target language at home?

You do not need to speak the target language for your child to succeed and gain proficiency. Homework is designed in a fun and engaging way through songs and games to review classroom learning. Strong communication with your child’s teacher is a key component to success.

For more detailed information please contact Michelle at mvoice@tessais.org.

It’s all in the way we learn…Total Physical Response (TPR)

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Total Physical Response (TPR) – An action oriented method to increase comprehension

An American professor by the name of James Asher developed an approach to language teaching commonly referred to as Total Physical Response (TPR). This work began in the 1960’s and theorizes that memory is improved through an association with physical movements.

There are many activities that can occur when using the TPR approach which helps children develop language using movements. These activities support the classroom curriculum and are not only motivating, but a lot of fun.

We don’t often think of Total Physical Response (TPR), but many games and activities have TPR fundamentals built in, both directly and indirectly. A good example is with “Simon Says” or “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”. Here is an example of TPR in a using Mandarin:

 

Total Physical Response (TPR) increases both short and long-term retention. When we learn to ride a bicycle we always remember how, no matter how many years might have passed. It might take a bit of a review, but the skills and knowledge are still there.

Total Physical Response (TPR) has many benefits. These include helping learners understand target languages and aid in long-term retention in a stress-free approach. This method can be uses to teach vocabulary connected to actions, classroom directions, and storytelling.  Teachers thoughtfully plan lessons with TPR in mind to promote engagement and develop listening fluency. Once there is enough listening fluency learners begin to speak the target language. Here is an example of TPR in the classroom.

You can read more at Total Physical Response (TPR).

Focusing on individual learning needs improves learning outcomes

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What is individual learning?
Individualized learning is closely related to differentiated instruction. While differentiated instruction focuses on flexible grouping of children, individualized instruction focuses more on the needs of individual children. Good classrooms balanced both differentiated methods and individualized learning to create an engaging and stimulating learning environment.

Why is individualized instruction important?
Meeting the varied needs of children can be a daunting task for educators. It most definitely takes more planning and assessment of student progress, but the benefits far outweigh the cons. Individualized instruction prepares children to become active and effective learners developing the skills needed to be life-long learners in an ever evolving world. With the varied aptitude levels of children, individualized instruction helps use the differences of children to increase moral, retain information, and enhance children’s engagements in their learning.

How do we begin?
There are essentially five important steps to creating a successful individualized learning classroom. These are:
1. Setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely goals
2. Goals should be challenging
3. Goals are dynamic and reviewed regularly
4. Students own their progress
5. Parents are involved

What are some methods to individualize learning?
Teachers plan carefully and collaboratively to ensure they are using meaningful data to gain insights on how individual children are progressing toward a goal. We shift away from lengthy whole-group lessons to more play-based centers and inquiry-based projects. The centers and projects complimented by strategic use of current technological resources allow teachers to design engaging lessons that tap into the natural curiosity of each child.

Teachers provide opportunities for children to approach their learning in a variety of ways which provides more opportunities to retain information which improves moral and excitement for learning.

What are the benefits of individual learning?
Individualized learning essentially allows students to learn at their own pace with teacher direction. They are still working towards rigorous and challenging learning outcomes, but they are provided a variety of ways to demonstrate their learning.